2010 Favorites

It’s time once again for my yearly favorites!
First, in the book category, for non-fiction we have Blind Descent and The Big Short. For fiction, Let the Great World Spin and A Visit From The Goon Squad. Overall I finished 45 books, just a few short of my goal of 52, but not bad.
In the ever-present beer category, I didn’t review nearly as many as usual, but I most enjoyed Founders Nemesis and Drie Fonteinen Oude Kriek.
And as always, we relive the rest of the year’s events:

Looking forward to 2011!

Drie Fonteinen Oude Kriek

Bottled March 31, 2009. Watch your eyes! Nearly forgot to point away from my face while unscrewing the cage. Glanced off my forehead on the last twist. On to the beer…
Pours a great red color. Hazy looking through, big time. Actually got plenty of head and lacing in my tulip glass. Nice looking beer.
My first whiff while pouring I thought, “Uh oh. Smells like cough drops.” Didn’t get that after the initial surprise. More of a kind of funky aroma really.
But the taste, wow. Bang! Right on your tongue comes the tartness of those cherries. It’s so sour you forget it’s beer, and the cherriness has to fight to get through. I found if I held the beer in the middle of my tongue avoiding the sides where the sour taste buds reside helped a lot to get more out of the beer.
It might just be that I’m really into the sours right now, but yeah, I might have to go back and grab some more since I know they are in short supply.
Overall rating: 4.45 out of 5

Ommegang Biere de Mars

Bright amber color with nice head poured into my tulip glass.
Sour aroma reminiscent of green apple.
Not nearly as tart on the tongue. Some initial tartness with some sweeter malt. But a whole lot o’ funk in there as expected from a Brett beer.
Super clean finish, and quite drinkable as well.
Overall rating: 4.4

New Belgium Mighty Arrow Pale Ale

Pale orange color, good head and significant lacing.
Pine hop aroma with some citrus.
Good balance of flavor with the malt managing to pin down the hop bitterness.
Not too much of a lingering bitterness, nice smooth carbonation makes for a drinkable beer.
Overall rating: 4.1

New Belgium 1554

Poured into a snifter glass. Nice dark brown color, with hints of ruby red when held up to the light.
Let it warm a bit to release the aromas of the roasted malt.
I’d say it tastes like chocolate, but it is quite dry, so it’s more like cocoa powder. Went nicely with my banana chocolate bread. A little bit of a burnt coffee flavor too (some would say Starbucks flavor).
Quite enjoyable, really.
Overall rating: 4.1

New Belgium Fat Tire

Pale copper color, good head and lacing.
Mostly malty aroma, toasty, biscuity.
Great balance though in the flavor. More biscuity from the malt, but also a good hoppiness too. A good mouthful gets a solid bite, but small sipping shows off more of the floral nature.
The balance of the beer does it for me, making it a very sessionable beer.
Overall rating: 4.0

St. Louis Framboise

Ruby red with a nice thick pink head in my tulip glass.
Surprise, surprise, lots of raspberry aroma. Does smell a
little like “beer,” as my wife would say.
So sweet on the tongue. Slight raspberry tartness but it is like drinking raspberry sorbet after it melts. Whatever beer flavor I might have thought there was is no longer available to my tongue. It is still trying to recover from the sweetness.
A good once in a while beer. I’m still surprised at how sweet it is. Sorbet beer, I tell ya. Might be good for cooking even, I imagine.
Overall rating: 3.95

More Madness Than Ever

The WaPo’s Beer Madness craziness continues. The second round brought a whole new panel of judges to taste, and the upsets continued. Both Pilsner Urquell and Troegs Hopback lost this round, meaning I definitely have to find Nogne O Pale Ale. I currently have Ephemere (out, and from tasting it again, I see why: like mixing beer with green apple Jolly Rancher), St Louis Framboise (out also, not surprised since fruit beers are a tough sell), and Xingu Black Beer (still in it, could be the dark horse, get it, DARK horse?) in the house. Frankly, I have no idea how it will play out from here, but I’d love to see a non-lager win it.
As for the other Madness, there is no one more shocked than me to see my Spartans in the Final Four for the second year in a row. I picked them to lose to Maryland in my bracket. Then I thought they’d lose to Northern Iowa, and then Tennessee. And yet, they keep finding a way to give me heart attacks and pull out one more win. They are sure to be underdogs again against Butler, and then in the final whomever they play. But how can you count them out? I’m just glad that I will be able to watch any remaining games, rather than scrambling to try to find a pub or hotel in Ireland to watch the games.
March is a fun time of year.

Beer Madness Bracket Busted already

Wow, I have to say I didn’t see a couple of these upsets coming. My Final Four for the Beer Madness were Pilsner Urquell, Brooklyn Brown Ale, Troegs Hopback, and Ephemere and already Brooklyn Brown and Ephemere are out! I was most surprised that the judges picked raspberry St. Louis Framboise over the less extreme Ephemere apple, but I love the choice. Brooklyn Brown’s upset was a bigger shock, coming to unknown Brazilian beer Xingu Black Ale. Even so, there are still many tough choices ahead, with strong contenders in every corner.

Founders Nemesis

Kind of a strange pour, not much head at all. Lovely hazy orange color to it though.
Oh wow, the bourbon really smacks you in the nose right away. Seriously, it smells like I’m about to sip some Pappy Van Winkle. (Look it up.) Some vanilla too.
About what you would expect from the flavor. Bourbon, a bit of bite from the alcohol, but also some bitterness. Still, there is a good amount of sweetness too, melted brown sugar toward a maple tendency.
Lovely feeling going down, but man, it is hitting me hard. Wish I could have more, but really can’t handle it.
Overall rating: 4.55